What the CVC said in its report on ousted CBI chief Alok Verma
The Central Vigilance Commission’s (CVC’s) November report to the Supreme Court on allegations of corruption against ousted Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director Alok Verma is a mixed bag. CVC’s inquiry “substantiated” four charges against Verma even as it found another three charges “unsubstantiated”. One allegation was partly “substantiated”, and it could not complete the investigation in one of the cases because of “paucity of time”.
An internecine fight between Verma and his deputy, Rakesh Asthana, has rocked the agency over the past few months. On the intervening night of October 23 and 24, the government divested both of their powers and sent them on forced leave. Verma challenged his removal in the top court, which on January 8 ordered his conditional reinstatement. On January 10, a selection committee, comprising Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Chief Justice of India’s representative justice AK Sikri, and the leader of the single largest opposition party in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, met. In a 2:1 decision (Kharge dissented), the panel transferred the CBI director out of the agency.
Watch: Mallikarjun Kharge on Alok Verma - ‘Action was taken only on basis of CVC report’
The key CVC report on Verma, which is at the heart of the case, found some allegations “substantiated” and recommended further inquiry. A few allegations turned out to be incorrect. Here’s a look at some of the charges and the findings:
1) While CVC found “no direct evidence” to suggest that Verma was bribed by Hyderabad-based businessman Sana Satish Babu, it recommended a probe to verify “circumstantial” evidence. CVC noted that Verma overruled the arrest of Babu despite recommendations to the contrary by the officials handling the case. One of the main lines of the probe was Asthana’s allegation that Verma accepted ₹2 crore from Babu to ensure he wasn’t indicted in a case against controversial meat exporter Moin Qureshi.
2) The CVC inquiry also found that Verma deliberately excluded the name of a key accused in an IRCTC corruption case. There are allegations that conditions for tender to build a hotel were changed to ensure that a certain company could qualify and bid for the contract. But allegations that Verma tried to call off searches on the Patna premises linked to accused in the case turned out to be incorrect.
3) The CVC inquiry into whether an officer of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), who was allegedly demanding money from a lawyer to influence Verma, was tipped off about him being under surveillance was “not conclusive”. It notes as mentioned in the complaint, that officers handling the case were abruptly transferred proved to be correct. ED probes financial crimes.
4) CVC found allegations of Verma trying to recruit at least two tainted officers in CBI to be correct. CVC observed that explanations offered by Verma were not convincing.
5) The allegation that Verma tried to help a cattle smuggler who was booked by CBI was found to be incorrect.
6) The allegation that Verma, as the Delhi Police commissioner, had tried to help a man smuggle in 500 gold coins was found to be incorrect. Asthana had alleged that inquiry needs to be done to establish who helped the man. CVC said its findings didn’t show any involvement of Verma, but pointed out to a letter from CBI to Delhi Police that asked for records of the bust and also requested that the letter be destroyed. CVC asked for a fresh investigation.
7) The allegation that intelligence about two businessmen — wanted by CBI and ED — trying to flee India was deliberately ignored Verma turned out to be incorrect. The two are suspected to be involved in the coal block allocation case and the 2G spectrum case.
8) CVC could not verify the allegation whether or not Verma and one of his deputies received bribes in a land acquisition case in Haryana that was being investigated by CBI.